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African American Creative Nonfiction Happy

Cheese Egg Summer

Are you hungry? I looked around to see where I was. I was looking forward to Grandma's puffy pancakes, but somehow, I'm back home in bed. Wow, I didn't look forward to too many meals from anyone except Grandma's puffy pancakes and Mom's cheese eggs, but I would not tell either of them.

You see, I was thirty-two pounds from two to five years of age, spindly, frail, and a food hater. Mom was at her wit's end. She would prepare whatever I named for any meal: hamburger and milkshake for breakfast, done. Unfortunately, after two bites and three swigs, I was done too. She would try again for a win at lunch, and again I would name something that interested me at the moment, a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but she'd pair it with milk, and I would get nauseous after the first sip and I was off to the bathroom. I would pick Dad's favorite Friday dinners, like fried chicken, fish, or pork chops.

I nibbled; a full plate scared me; my Mom's favorite mealtime statement was: "You'll sit there until all that food is gone." I would eat my three bites while she was in the kitchen watching. It was enough to fool her that I was going to eat. I would hide the rest in the trash can or feed it to Shep, our Greyhound German- Shepard mixed indoor dog. When she realized I wasn't eating, she asked my Grandma what to do to make me eat.

Grandma's response was: You're approaching this the wrong way. First, you get angered when she does not eat whatever you pile on her plate, but she does eat some. If you want a picky child to eat, you have to let them think it is their choice of how much they eat. Give them only a few bites at first, and don't hover. When they finish the portion you gave them, ask if they want more and tell them it is okay if they don't want more right now, but it will be here for them to nibble on until bedtime. Your brother Joe would do the same thing; unfortunately, sometimes, another sibling would be the benefactor of the leftovers. Too bad Kim doesn't have someone to challenge her. So, I suggest you figure out the meal she eats most from her plate. For me, she loves my eggy pancakes. She likes your cheese eggs better than mine; she prefers your cheese combinations and tells me every time I try. It would be best to determine which fruits are not contagious to her. She's a fruit and cheese diva!

After that talk with Grandma, my plate became a salad size one with only three or four protein bites, freshly peeled or sliced fruits, and a biscuit slavered with butter and strawberry jam. I couldn't eat it all, but I tried. Also, she stopped giving me my drink and my plate together. A compromise was necessary because I needed something to wash down the food between each type. I never have been able to mix my food. I took Grandma's advice, too; I ate what I wouldn't say I liked the most first, then the next least favorite, leaving the fruit and the biscuit for last.

Many fruits and vegetables grew on our land right outside my window. In the summer, I was bombarded with the smell of mint, apples, peaches, pears, grapes, and strawberries when I raised my window. I would ride my bicycle past all of these temptations as long as possible, but what is a girl to do when a perfect gift falls at the very moment I pass by? Maybe I should have remembered the time before, but no. I would pick it up, dust off the dirt, smell it, and before I knew it, I would bite it. I may have been okay if I would have washed it first. I would break out around my mouth and run inside, itching, swelling, and crying, needing allergy medicines.

I didn't realize the risk I took as a child until I was the parent of an asthmatic child with allergies, just like the ones I had some twenty-plus years previously. I had a newfound respect for my Mom's effort to keep me alive. Children don't think parents know or care about how much fun they are sucking out the exploration process of childhood.

No matter how many good dreams I have…Yet again, I found myself apologizing to my mother.

This was the last time I would apologize because I sat beside her casket three days later, regretting that I was alone to figure out life. I immediately knew I had no idea how to make it look easy for my children like I had thought at their ages. I got a wake-up call before sundown. Family members slivered from beneath every rock to steal whatever they could from her house, estate, and memory. Leaving nothing behind—no tangible possessions, no matter how those who looked to her for guidance felt or what her wishes were.

Because of this…

I learned to make cheesy eggs and quiche. My children were not as picky about their food as I was. I realized how many vegetables I could hide in a cheese and egg pie. Ingenious, right? What child doesn't like pie? One slice of quiche, fresh fruit, and sparkling fruit juice in a fluted glass became my signature breakfast on Saturday mornings with my kids. Office meetings were held in the lunchtime slots from one through three so that the a.m. and p.m. staffers could bring in things for a potluck and discussion.

This practice continued until the spring of 95 when Mom finally admitted that she had been having heart problems. Pride kept her from being honest with me about the severity of her situation, and it kept me from asking if I should move home to help out. She tried roundaboutly, but I didn't pick up on the clue. Never before had she volunteered to keep the younger grandchildren for any time without me being in the same city. When they asked to stay, she was game. It's hard to say NO when you know better than the only living grandparent on my side of the family. Maybe it was the test we both needed answers to—could they survive each other a week, or could the asthmatic live with the cat he loved from afar? It didn't last a weekend. No matter how many cheese eggs she made!

October 16, 2023 19:08

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8 comments

14:02 Oct 26, 2023

Really nice story Kimberly, nice reminiscence and very relatable stuff. Grandma's always have the best advice! Thanks for sharing.

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Kimberly Walker
21:28 Oct 26, 2023

Thanks for reading.

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Nik Alxndr
22:40 Oct 25, 2023

I liked the theme of food throughout the story, especially as a picky eater and someone who also has a picky child. However, I felt like you rolled three pretty interesting stories into one.

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Kimberly Walker
13:51 Oct 26, 2023

Probably did

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Kailani Bonam
03:33 Oct 22, 2023

This made me hungry :)

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Kimberly Walker
05:17 Oct 22, 2023

Good It is still my favorite breakfast or dinner

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Mary Bendickson
04:28 Oct 17, 2023

Always amazed at your stories. So glad you survived.

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Kimberly Walker
07:06 Oct 17, 2023

Me too...Reedsy is making me analyze myself and see mom differently.

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